2012 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining
Good Neighbor Award Winner
Alcoa Sandow Mine, Alcoa, Inc., Rockdale, Texas
The Good Neighbor Award for Excellence in Surface Coal Mining was presented to the Alcoa Sandow Mine, an Alcoa, Inc. Company in Rockdale, Texas.
Although better known for its aluminum products than coal mining, coal plays a key role in ALCOA’s business. The company’s Sandow Texas mine is 17,000 acres. ALCOA has mined about 12-thousand of those, producing more than 200 million tons of lignite coal, which ALCOA burned to produce 25 billion pounds of aluminum.
Sandow Mine has a longtime relationship with the Boy Scouts. Here, a Scout plants a tree on the Texas site.
Beginning in the early 1970’s, before federal reclamation standards existed, ALCOA began its reclamation efforts by leveraging community groups, including the Boy Scouts, to plant trees and help develop water resources. Some of those former Scouts later became ALCOA employees. In 2000, ALCOA developed companywide sustainability targets that furthered its reclamation efforts. Those targets were designed to engage local communities.
In 2003, ALCOA formed a Community Advisory Panel for its Rockdale operation. 15 people serve on the panel which was established to provide a forum for citizens to ask questions and for the company to provide information to citizens. Panel meetings are open to the public and media. In 2003, the company also began its ten million trees program, with a goal of planting the specified number of trees around the globe by 2020.
The company-supported bee pollination program also provides honey for employees and the community.
ALCOA also submits annual Wildlife Management Plans, working closely with Texas state biologists. Some of the work includes doing animal census counts, providing supplemental food and water when needed, and enhancing land to provide both water and food crops for a variety of species. ALCOA has also developed a bee pollination program. The program supports several hives on reclaimed coal mines that produce honey, which is then distributed to employees and the community.
Most recently, ALCOA introduced its Green Works initiative. In April 2011, the company held an activity day to promote sustainability and environmental stewardship. Echoing its past efforts, the company invited 21 Boy Scouts, several families and the Milam County Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden to take part in reclamation-related activities.
An ALCOA volunteer moving fish from one pond to another due to drought conditions.
The day included stocking fish in one of the mine’s lakes, and transferring 200 fish from one existing pond to another, a move made necessary because of drought conditions. The groups also planted 200 tree seedlings, including cedar elm, bald cypress, willow oak, wax myrtle and water oak trees. Each participant was also given a tree to take home. Finally, ALCOA also presented the Boy Scout troop that participated in the event with a grant to continue its activities.